We all knew the NFL was a brutal sport. That’s nothing new. Yet, we’re often so surprised when injuries happen. Guys like Carson Wentz can get molly-whopped all over the field by the Bears Monday and come out totally fine, but shifty running backs like Danny Woodhead can just make a cut wrong and see ya later 2016 season. Yes, Woodhead was lost to a torn ACL on Sunday (and no…you won’t find Kenneth Farrow on this list), but he wasn’t alone. The Jest WR corps all got banged up after lunch, a slew of RB didn’t make it out of their contest in the afternoon (Doug Martin, Thomas Rawls, Ameer Abdullah, Arian Foster (what?!? no way…!)), and then in the evening the machine malfunctioned. When Adrian Peterson couldn’t walk through the food court back to the Vikings locker room every Minnesota and fantasy football owner collectively gasped. “Oh, please no. Not now. Anything but this. First our Twins, then our QB, and now our messiah.” You know, something like that. Freaking injuries… The hits just keep coming for Minnesota, and yet the Vikings keep winning.
For fantasy owners you have to take the injuries in stride, as their bound to impact your team in a negative light sooner or later. So, guess what? That’s where this little article comes in handy! Have no fear, because the next man up in Minnesota is more than capable of carrying the load until the king returns in over a month, and he’s more than capable of slotting into your lineup to bring great value in the interim. And no…I’m not talking about Matt Asiata…
Below are the top six targets to, well, target from the waiver wire leading into Week 3!
Note: The threshold for appearing as one of the targets is <25% ownership on either Yahoo or ESPN.
- Jerick McKinnon, RB – MIN (ESPN 24.4%, Yahoo 25%) – Alright, don’t every trip over each other trying to grab the top pickup of the week. The Vikings had a ridiculously impressive win on Sunday night vs. the Packers, but the win may have resulted in a net loss due to the torn right meniscus of Adrain Peterson. When Minnesota was without AP two years ago McKinnon and Matt Asiata filled in serviceably, but McKinnon’s the gem to find int he backfield. Asiata may get the goalie carries, but his fantasy production will be as hit-or-miss as Miguel Sano at the plate, to reference another Minnesota slugger. McKinnon, however, is in line for the highest volume, highest floor and, on any given Sunday, the highest ceiling. His career 4.9 YPC on 168 carries is impressive, as are his 50 receptions in minimal playing time, but the biggest reason for hope may just be the emergence and arrival of Sam Bradford to the offense (did I really just type that?!?). Bradford may be an enigma that brings more disappointment than excitement, but there’s an easy argument to him being the best passer Minnesota’s had running their offense since Brett Favre in 2009. After seeing what Kyle Rudolph and Stephon Diggs did on Sunday night, I expect the running game will still be productive with McKinnon carrying the load. A great RB2/Flex option, and that’s more than worth burning your waiver wire claim.
- Quincy Enunwa, WR – NYJ (ESPN 5.6%, Yahoo 10%) – The top WR target for this week, in my book, resides in New York once again. Did you notice Victor Cruz’s ownership shot up to the 40% mark after Week 1, and after his 4/91/0 game in Week 2 it will likely rise higher. But on the other NY team there was a waiver wire wide receiver (say that eight times fast) who did even better. Quincy put up a 6/92/0 line, catching all six targets. Now, most of this came in the first half before a rib injury took him out of the game, but if it was as minor as I expect, Enunwa could find himself with double the targets next week. The Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick are going to sling it around, and with Brandon Marshall potentially out in Week 3 and Eric Decker nursing a sore shoulder, Enunwa is in line for an increase in production. Keep an eye on the rib news for Week 3, but even beyond this week Enunwa could emerge as a 60/900/6 option in this offense.
- Cole Beasley, WR – DAL (ESPN 7.4%, Yahoo 10%) – I’m not totally sure what to make of the Dallas passing attack, but Beasley seems to be emerging as the Dak Prescott’s Julian Edelman type player. Why do I compare to Edelman? Or Welker? Or Chrebet? Because they’re white? Well, um yes. You can’t escape that. But even more than is pigmentation, the comparison to a highly productive WR has to do with just that: his production. 18 targets in 2 weeks means Beasley’s getting the looks from Prescott, and with both the season and Dak’s career in its infancy, the propensity for check downs and crossing routes will be much higher than trusting his arm for the deep ball. Dez Bryant is the numero uno (clearly), but I’d take Beasley over every other option. Yes, even you Jason Witten. Like the next guy on the list, he’s a great PPR bench option for a bye week, and if he can find the end zone can creep his way into WR3 status. 13/140/0 in two weeks is better than a lot of players drafted in the first 6 rounds (looking at you Randall Cobb…).
- Jamison Crowder, WR WAS (ESPN 3.2%, Yahoo 6%) – I promise this isn’t going to become my personal campaign to get Crowder owned in more leagues…but he should be owned in more leagues. The Redskins are clearly an air-it-out offense, and you can argue that Crowder is the third option in the attack. Jordan Reed will sponge up the redone targets, DeSean Jackson is the deep threat, but Crowder proved again in Week 2 to be an incredible across the middle PPR-threat. 6/39/1 doesn’t look as good without that 1 tagged on the end (and he may not get too many more this year), but if you’re looking for a high floor, high volume option there aren’t many better than Crowder. Especially not owned in less than 10% of leagues. 18 targets in the first 2 weeks? That’s the same as Brandin Cooks.
- Dennis Pitta, TE – BAL (ESPN 10.8%, Yahoo 12%) – Shifting to my favorite position (I’m biased from personal experience), we find arguably one of the greatest security blankets in the NFL. Seriously, you might as well call him Linus because Joe Flacco relies on him so heavily. Mike Wallace may be the resurgent option in Baltimore, Steve Smith may be the grizzled veteran that still somehow commands attention, but it’s Pitta that has supplanted my preseason pick for the top Ravens receiver, Kamar Aiken. As Aiken has faded the first two weeks, Pitta’s exploded back onto the scene now that he’s healthy again. It’s been a bumpy road since 2012 with injuries, but we’ve seen him dominate the passing game in Baltimore. He brings incredible rapport with Flacco (it also doesn’t hurt being his best friend), a decent floor and solid upside, as we saw in Week 2: 9/102/0 on 12 targets. It’s those targets that I love, and I don’t expect them to diminish any time soon, barring another injury. He’s my top Gronk fill-in if Rob Gronkowski is out again in Week 3.
- Jacob Tamme, TE – ATL (ESPN 10.9%, Yahoo 7%) – Sticking with the tight ends, here’s another security blanket. I can understand Pitta in Baltimore since there’s not all-world WR on the team, but in Atlanta it’s a little silly and confusing. Hey, Matt Ryan…you have Julio freaking Jones lined up outside for you, and you’ve targeted Jacob Tamme (16) more times than Julio (13)? I mean, why the face?!? Well, we can at least take advantage of it. Tamme’s been in the league long enough to know how to get open, and it’s no surprise to see Ryan finding his tight end often. With 8targets in each contest, and a 5/75/1 line at Oakland on Sunday, Tamme’s a sneaky option as a TE1 for Week 3 vs. the Saints.
DROP THOSE COMMENTS! And good luck in Week 3! Here’s to hoping the injuries chill the fork (‘The Good Place’ reference from last night) out so that we can enjoy watching the stars of the NFL rake in the fantasy points!